At twenty years old, a friend of undefeated welterweight sensation Karim Mayfield told him about an old gym in the neighborhood. One day curious and bored, with nothing to lose, Karim and his friend ventured over to the gym to check it out. Eying the inside of the place as they entered, Karim reflected on the many rumbles he had been in as a teenager. He didn’t particularly like to fight but he knew he could handle himself. The two friends surveyed the gym and spotted the boxing ring. Karim could see two guys geared up and sparing. His friend kept telling him he should get in the ring. Finally, giving in to temptation he stepped into the squared circle for the very first time. Someone told him he would be sparing with a newcomer to the gym, like himself. After eating some punches, Karim grew impatient with sparing, and tore into the guy. Cooling down he was informed that the person that he had just thrashed, was hardly a novice, he was actually an amateur fighter who had a number of fights.
Remembering Mayfield says, “I was inspired by how well I did”.
Karim kept coming back to the gym to learn. He eventually made the decision that a boxing career was something he should explore, even though he admitted that he thought of his new avocation as no more then a hobby.
The hobby soon took off. He began boxing in amateur tournaments. He won some, eventually compiling a record of 60 victories and only 5 defeats. He took on bigger guys quite a few times. He sparred with world champion Louisto Espinosa early in his amateur career and was told he had an annoying style.
“I had no idea what he was talking about man” he says with a laugh.
Karim tried out for the Olympic team in 2004 and lost a disputed decision. Undaunted he kept fighting, entering the 2006 Golden Gloves in his home city of San Francisco. Karim impressed everyone and made it all the way to the finals. There was no way he would lose.
“Winning the Gold Gloves, I was really proud of that”
People where beginning to notice. One of Karim’s biggest supporters was his first coach Ben Bautista who helped him with problems inside the ring and out. At the age of 24 Karim decided to turn pro. His favorite fighter at the time was Iron Mike Tyson. He liked the intensity Tyson evoked. He imitated Tyson in the ring, forcing the action and throwing some wicked shots. Along with training and fighting Karim was becoming a student of the fight game. He enjoyed reading about Muhammad Ali.
“Man Ali’s personality and talent. He combined the two. I really liked how he worked with the poor”.
Karim was discovering that there was more to boxing than trying to knock a guy a out. He admired the artistry of Willie Pep and Floyd Mayweather Jr. His professional style was still evolving. After six fights he was no longer a smaller version of Tyson. He was learning to be more refined and clever in the ring. Andre Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter began working with Karim. He showed him the finer points of defense. Virgil came away from the workouts very impressed.
“The kid can knock you dead with once punch” he says. “He can throw punches from odd angles and still knock guys out. Karim is strong”.
Strong and determined, Karim was learning how to counter shots. Back home in San Francisco he continued to work on his trade. Problem was he was having a hard time getting fights.
“It can be very discouraging”
Regardless when he could, he fought and continued to win. As of this writing, he has a professional record of 13 victories and 0 loses with nine knockouts. He hooked up a few months ago with Floyd Mayweather Sr and feels he has finally found a trainer that’s right for him.
“Floyd is old school. He’s not that bad dude you see on TV. He’s a nice guy and a real good trainer. He’s disciplined…everything has to be fast, fast and faster” he says laughing.
Karim will be fighting on November 27 as part of the Andre Ward – Sakio Bika undercard. At 29 years old, he is extra motivated to get his career on the fast track.
“I can’t wait to get back in there”.
Get ready for some fireworks.